After a big chaotic whirlwind of a week, my kids finished up their school year. Whew. And now they’re home with me all day, where we have differing opinions on how exactly they’re going to spend their time. One daughter-o-mine has told me 172 times that she intends to ENJOY her summer, sleep until noon, and divide up the non-sleeping time between friends, pool, movies, and curled up with her electronic devices. Oh, and shopping, and maybe travel if there’s time between all the self-indulgence.
As you can imagine, most of those things aren’t really on my summer bucket list for her.
Hypothetically speaking, there may or may not have been some character issues crop up within the past year. Not among MY kids, mind you, but, um, a friend’s kid. It was a rough year, for my friend, I mean, and let’s just say
I was not thrilled my friend was not thrilled with the level of focus, motivation, and productivity, and neither were this kid’s teachers. It seems at this particular child’s school there’s enormous pressure to fit into the Private School Princess mold. And bless these kids’ hearts, their mom won’t let them fit into it, if by “fitting in” it means having every whim of their little hearts gratified, living an utterly self-absorbed life, and spending free time being lazy and pampered.
Clearly, these kids – my friend’s kids, you know, not mine – haven’t been made to work hard enough. And kids who don’t work turn into self-centered, ungrateful, pouty children with a bad attitude.
When my kids were toddlers, I did a better job at chores, starting with putting away their toys and shoes and adding more as they were able. And then 2010 happened and I got lax because I couldn’t help it. They still do chores, for sure, and I have given them each a notebook with their daily chores lined out, and we’re generally consistent. It’s enough during the school year, but now that summer has rolled around, time is unstructured and the battle is on: They want to be princesses; mama wants them to be productive.
I’ll give you a hint… in this house, mama always wins.
The lack of WORK required of these children has become NOTICEABLE, and it’s time to intervene.
Reasons kids should work:
- Respect for authority
- A sense of worth, value, and security within the family, because they’re needed by the family and have a place within it
- Confidence, because they can do hard things
- Pride because of the satisfaction of a job well-done
- Perseverance, because they have to finish their work before they can play
- Emotional stability, because they don’t have time to sit around and focus on self
- Good attitude
- Able to endure hardship (and so less likely to drop out of school or bail on a marriage when times get tough)
- Strength, both physical and emotional
- Diligent, making the most of their days
- Spirit of self-motivation
- Spirit of entrepreneurship
- Self-respect and self-esteem
- A blessing to the family rather than a burden
- Treat their family better because of less focus on self
- God works, therefore work is Godly
- God’s word says if we eat, we should work
On the other hand, a picture of kids who don’t know how to work:
- Dependent on the system
- Selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed
- Manipulate others into doing work for them
- Anxious and nervous, because nobody needs them
- Poor self-image
- Not as prone to become leaders
- Less likely to sacrifice their comfort for that of others
- Constantly feel deprived because others have what they don’t
Michael Pearl has lots of wise words about kids working and how it makes your children better, more appreciative people:
That is a profound combination of vices—lazy and unthankful…. We have never heard of anyone that was lazy and thankful. Nor have we heard of anyone that was hard-working and unthankful. Our conclusion: unthankfulness is related to laziness. Kids that are raised with everything provided for them, kids who don’t have to pay the price of labor for anything, come to expect the bounties of life to be served up without a personal cost. Thus they are lazy, and since they expect to be on the receiving end, they are unthankful. So if you have lazy/unthankful kids, don’t expect to produce thankfulness by forcing them to say, “Thank you.” No amount of moral lecturing or teaching on thankfulness will produce it. Thankfulness is a by-product of believing you do not deserve the gifts that are thrown your way. If you believe you have it coming, it is impossible to be thankful.
So, I’m sorry, my beloved children, but you’ve got many years of labor around the ole homestead to look forward to.
You’ll thank me someday.
Today was the first day of our Summer Chores. I figured up how many days we had at home this summer and made a big chart of all kinds of things that need to be done around the house (not just arbitrary, busy work kinds of chores), and because I’m loving and gracious, it’s not a full-time job; we’re talking 95 days of summer and 20 chores, hardly enough to crush their little spirits. I really do want them to get to enjoy their summer, believe it or not. But also, on days when they’re being all spoiled, bratty princesses, don’t think I won’t cart them across town to serve their grandparents for a few hours IN ADDITION to their chores at home, AND at least one of them is going to be volunteering at our church, clothes closet, and food pantry this summer, too.
Did I mention CHARACTER ISSUES? Yes. We’re addressing those head on.
Each day my kids will be assigned one chore designed to take them between one and four hours to accomplish, depending on the schedule and my mood that day, and how kind they are to each other. Bratty kids who are mean to their sisters will always get more chores. But the funny thing is…. NOBODY WAS UGLY TO THEIR SISTER TODAY. This hard work situation is working already… less time to sit around focusing on self results in kinder, more likable people. Today the girls were assigned outside window cleaning. I divided our downstairs windows in half and each girl got 9 windows to clean. I went around to inspect, and was really proud. I do love spotless perfection when it comes to window cleaning, but I only made them touch up about two spots each.
It’s about character development, not spotless perfection, I have to remind my Type 4 self. And lest you’re concerned that I’m working my kids like slave labor while I sit around in the air conditioning, I have a list of projects of my own to complete this summer, and it’s a LOT longer than theirs. I can’t expect to turn my kids into tomorrow’s leaders if I’m not being a good leader myself, can I? I don’t require them to sweat any more than I’m willing to do myself.
As far as the rest of our summer of character building, it looks like this (one column per kid)…
|Deep clean kitchen. Move everything on the counter and clean under it. Sweep behind fridge and wipe down all appliances and sink. Don’t forget inside microwave, inside dishwasher around the door, and warming drawer under oven.||Deep clean playroom/organize toys. Put all toys in their designated bin. Make the bed look nice. Clean the armoire and organize movies. Remove any trash and if you find broken toys or toys that are missing parts, take them to mom.
|Clean outside windows with a water hose, then newspaper. Leave no streaks.||Clean outside windows with a water hose, then newspaper. Leave no streaks.
|Clean inside windows with newspaper. Leave no streaks. Clean windowsills.||Clean inside windows with newspaper. Leave no streaks. Clean windowsills.|
|Dust the high stuff; get a ladder and clean all ceiling fans and light fixtures, and ceiling vents.||Clean low stuff; baseboards and floor vents.
|Clean kitchen TOP cabinets inside and out. Make sure there are no spills, splatters, or smudges on the outside of the cabinets. Remove everything from the cabinets, wipe cabinet out, and put everything back neater than it was before. ||Clean kitchen BOTTOM cabinets inside and out. Make sure there are no spills, splatters, or smudges on the outside of the cabinets. Remove everything from the cabinets and drawers, wipe cabinet out, and put everything back neater than it was before.
|Clean out the refrigerator and small freezer. Check dates and throw away anything that’s expired or food that’s ruined. Put everything back neater than it was before and organize according to veggies, fruit, etc. Wipe down the top and outside. ||Clean out big freezer. Remove all ice. Throw away anything that’s bad and put everything back neater than it was before and organize according to what it is… all veggies together, etc. Wipe down the top and outside.
|Clean out your own closet, take everything out including what’s on the shelves, and put everything back neater than it was before. Remove everything from your dresser and do the same. Anything too small or ruined, give to mom. Throw away trash.||Clean out your own closet, take everything out including what’s on the shelves, and put everything back neater than it was before. Remove everything from your dresser and do the same. Anything too small or ruined, give to mom. Throw away trash.
|Bissell carpet in downstairs bedrooms. ||Bissell carpet in upstairs bedrooms and playroom.
|Organize pantry. Wipe off shelves. Put everything back neater than it was before.||Organize linen closet. Take everything out, fold it, put all matching sheets together, and put everything back neater than it was before.
|Deep clean DOWNSTAIRS hall bathroom. Mop floor. Clean toilet top to bottom, front and back. Remove everything from cabinets and drawers, wipe them out, and put everything back neater than it was before. Clean the mirror. Clean the shower and shower door and make sure there’s no mildew.||Deep clean UPSTAIRS bathroom. Mop floor. Clean toilet top to bottom, front and back. Remove everything from cabinets and drawers, wipe them out, and put everything back neater than it was before. Clean the mirror. Clean the shower and shower door and make sure there’s no mildew.
|Clean the laundry closet. Wipe down washer and dryer and sweep behind both. Take out cleaning supplies, wipe off the shelf, and put everything back neater than it was before. Remove anything that doesn’t belong. Put any clothes in the appropriate person’s room.||Clean the game room book shelf. Dust everything. Straighten and organize. Clean Michael’s desk with Windex and newspaper.|
|Wash the van with soapy water, including the tires and wheels, and rinse well. Remove anything from inside that doesn’t belong and put it away. Vacuum. Clean windows inside with Windex and newspaper. Bissell carpet and floormats. ||Wash the car with soapy water, including the tires and wheels, and rinse well. Remove anything from inside that doesn’t belong and put it away. Vacuum. Clean windows inside with Windex and newspaper. Bissell carpet and floormats.
|Put drawer liner in the kitchen drawers. ||Clean and dust everything in the big china cabinet with
Windex and a soft cloth. Carefully. 😉
|Clean all the blinds in den, play room, and living room with a damp cloth. Clean up any dust that falls in the windowsill.||Clean all the blinds in all the bedrooms with a damp cloth. Clean up any dust that falls in the windowsill.
|Wash down outside of garage and clean up toys, etc., under carport.||Wash down garage doors and clean garage windows with newspaper and Windex.|
|Empty all wastebaskets. Take outside and scrub them out. Let some bleach water soak for a few minutes then rinse out, then let them air dry outside. Return them to their spot with a new liner. ||Empty kitchen trashcan. Take outside and scrub it out. Let some bleach water soak for a few minutes then rinse out, then let it air dry outside. Return to its spot with a new liner.
|Clean patio with water and push broom. ||Clean Susie’s playhouse, grill, and patio furniture with water and a scrub brush.|
|Clean all the mirrors in the house (including frame).||Clean the tops of all picture frames in the house.
|Clean all door frames and doors with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. ||Clean all light switches and door knobs with a Clorox Wipe.
|Mom reserves the right to add wallpaper stripping or trim painting depending on behavior and attitudes. 😉||Mom reserves the right to add wallpaper stripping or trim painting depending on behavior and attitudes. 😉|
See? It won’t kill them. And it may even make life a little better for all of us.